97 MDG administers their first COVID-19 vaccines

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell
  • Altus Air Force Base Public Affairs

Airmen from the 97th Medical Group distributed their first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on Jan.15, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base.

The medical group, along with the DoD is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prioritization guidelines for vaccine distribution to members of the base populace. The vaccine that the base received is administered in two doses 28 days apart. For the vaccine to work most effectively, members must follow up for their second dose.

“I think that getting the vaccine is an essential activity that's going to help us all get back to normalcy,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Elliot, 97th MDG chief of aerospace medicine.

The clinic gave the vaccines in 25-member distribution lines. Inside of the 97th MDG, several stations were set up: a screening area to get members’ information, a briefing area to go over details of the vaccine, and an administration area where members were given the vaccine. Afterward, members were told to wait in the lobby area for the medical team to monitor reactions before checking out and receiving a second-dose reminder card.

“To prepare for this day, the medical readiness team has been working to get everything ready so the people can receive the vaccine in an orderly fashion,” said Senior Airman Sue Cartwright, 97th Healthcare Operations Squadron medical readiness technician. “We had members from the entire medical group helping with things like directing traffic flow, manpower security, time checkers, runners for stand by assistance and lobby monitors.”

In preparation for the event, several members of the 97th MDG had to receive special training on how to handle the vaccine.

“Part of receiving the vaccine was storing it correctly, and that required some of the personnel to receive cold chain management training,” said Capt. Torri Hurst, 97th HCOS medical logistics flight commander. “The medical logistics team and I were tasked to create the full list of procedures when handling the vaccine. This involved working with members from the warehouse, biomedical, public health, and many more. In addition to the procedures, we were also tasked with setting up the facility layout to give out the vaccine, that way our clinic had the tools to make sure our patients were taken care of.”

After the MDG has distributed all of the first set of batches of the vaccines, they will continue to the next phase according to the DoD and CDC prioritization guidelines for the vaccine distribution

“It's going to take some time for us to get the entire base the allocation of vaccines from the DoD,” said Elliot. “As we move forward, we're expecting to get more as it becomes readily available.”

For more information about the Military Health System’s plan for the COVID-19 vaccine visit https://health.mil/About-MHS/MHS-Toolkits/COVID-19-Vaccine-Toolkit